The Power of Mother Nature

Photo: Volunteers cleaning Waikua‘a‘ala Pond on March 17, 2011.

On March 11, 2011, the first tsunami waves hit the 4.2-acre Kahalu‘u Beach Park, transforming it into a massive lake. As the water receded over the next few days, the extent of the damage the waves had wreaked upon the park became apparent. “Fish lay flapping on the sand. Tables and signs were tossed and torn apart like toys,” says Cindi Punihaole, The Kohala Center's (TKC) Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator.

Huge boulders were strewn across the small sandy beach, and sand and rock filled Waikua‘a‘ala, reducing it to a mere 10ʹ x 10ʹ unrecognizable pond. Debris riddled the area, and 1,000-pound concrete barricades were washed into the middle of the parking lot. The small park pavilion was undermined as the waves battered and broke through the concrete rock walls in front and to the south.

Photo: Kupuna Mitchell Fujisaka helps with the rebuilding of the rock wall at Waikua‘a‘ala Pond.

On March 14, Bob Fitzgerald, County Parks and Recreation Director, working under the direction of kupuna (Hawaiian elder) Mitchell Fujisaka, a long-time family member of Kahalu‘u, authorized emergency dredging of Waikua‘a‘ala Pond. The Kohala Center issued an island-wide call for volunteers to assist with the park clean-up. On Thursday, March 17, over 100 volunteers from Waimea, Ka‘ū, Pa‘auilo, Kohala, Waikoloa, North and South Kona—even some of our homeless neighbors at Kahalu‘u—turned out to participate in the first Kōkua Kahalu‘u Day.

“We are fortunate to be able to live in such a beautiful place with such beautiful people,” says Punihaole. “I extend a heartfelt mahalo to everyone who willingly gave of their time to help repair our beloved Kahalu‘u Beach and Bay. I especially want to thank the County workers, the volunteers from the University of the Nations, and Starbucks and KTA SuperStores, who provided breakfast pastries, coffee and tea, and lunch for all of the volunteers,” she says.

Read more about "The Miracle of Community" on the Back Page.

Our Fair Share

We have a responsibility to look out for our entire island community and especially those sectors who are under-served. Therefore, we will continue to pursue and remedy any inequity in energy efficiency money that should be deployed on our island. It is self-evident that as we lift under-served community members, it strengthens the entire island. —Will Rolston, County of Hawai‘i Energy Coordinator

Image: Compared to O‘ahu (Table E-1), the state’s most developed and populated island, low-income households on Hawai‘i Island make up a higher percentage of the overall population and spend a larger fraction of their income on electricity. Image and caption from “Energy Efficiency Strategies for Low-Income Communities on Hawai‘i Island,” June 2011.

U.S. Department of Energy data shows that Hawai‘i has the highest electricity rates in the country. According to a new report by the Center for Industrial Ecology at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Hawai‘i Island households spend roughly 6% of their income on electricity, which is nearly three times the national average of 2%. Energy prices on Hawai‘i Island are an even greater burden for our low-income households, who spend, on average, more than 15% of their income on electricity.

The new report provides recommendations to improve energy efficiency incentive programs for low-income households on Hawai‘i Island. The report, “Energy Efficiency Strategies for Low-Income Communities on Hawai‘i Island,” was commissioned by the County of Hawai‘i and sponsored by The Kohala Center.

Among other things, the Yale team looked at Hawaii Energy expenditures for Hawai‘i Island energy efficiency programs. Hawaii Energy, the principal organization in the state that addresses energy efficiency, currently contracts with the Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to coordinate energy efficiency programs and to oversee the state’s Public Benefit Fund. In 2009, the first year of its state contract, Hawaii Energy collected $3,026,861 in Public Benefit Fund fees from customers on Hawai‘i Island, but it only returned $950,321 to the island for energy efficiency programs. Hawaii Energy’s 2010 data were not available at the time the study was drafted.

“The report emphasizes how important it is that our most vulnerable families are able to take advantage of the fees paid to Hawaii Energy and that Hawai‘i Island re-capture the amount its rate payers contribute to the Public Benefit Fund as part of their monthly electric bills,” explains TKC’s Deputy Director Elizabeth Cole.

The Kohala Center is partnering with the County to educate island residents about residential energy efficiency as part of the pathway to greater island energy self-reliance. Hawaii Energy is currently hiring additional staff to increase their educational programs and outreach to the neighbor islands; see their Web site at for details. Read the energy efficiency report at

New Cohort of Mellon-Hawai‘i Fellows Named

Photo: 2011–2012 Mellon–Hawai‘i Doctoral Fellow Kekuewa Kikiloi surveying a small shrine on Miller’s Peak, Nihoa, Papahānaumokuākea (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands).

Four Hawaiian scholars have been selected as 2011–2012 Mellon-Hawai‘i Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows in recognition of their commitment to the advancement of scholarship on Hawaiian cultural and natural environments, Hawaiian language, history, politics, and society.

Receiving the doctoral fellowships are:

Postdoctoral Fellows are:

Fellowship applicants were evaluated on their leadership potential as well as their demonstrated commitment to the advancement of Hawaiian scholarship. They were selected by a distinguished panel of senior scholars and kūpuna (elders) comprised of Mr. Robert Lindsey, Jr., member of TKC Board of Directors, and Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee; Dr. Shawn Kana‘iaupuni, Director, Public Education Support Division, the Kamehameha Schools; Dr. Dennis Gonsalves, Executive Director, Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center; Dr. Pualani Kanahele, Distinguished Professor, Hawai‘i Community College; and Dr. James Kauahikaua, Scientist-in-Charge, U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Each year, I am impressed with the high quality and diversity of the Mellon-Hawai‘i Fellows. These scholars raise Hawaiian scholarship to increasingly higher levels. —Dr. James Kauahikaua, Scientist-in-Charge, U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

The Mellon-Hawai‘i Fellowship program provides scholars the opportunity to complete their dissertations or to publish original research. Postdoctoral fellowships amount to $50,000 each, and doctoral fellowships, $40,000. The Mellon-Hawai‘i Fellowship Program was founded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Kohala Center with the support of Kamehameha Schools. In academic year 2010-2011, the Kahiau Foundation joined in support.

Read more about each of this year’s fellows in "Changing How We Think About Hawai‘i" on the Back Page.

Earth As Teacher

Photo: Cornell EES student Niki Foros spent his internship working on lashings and sanding the hull of the Makali‘i voyaging canoe to prepare it for launch day.

In 2011 the Cornell University Earth and Environmental Systems (EES) Field Program brought 13 students to Hawai‘i Island to experience life and learning in the amazing outdoor laboratory that the island provides. Kumu pa‘a i ka ‘āina (Earth as teacher) offers students the opportunity to engage in hands-on internships during their last six weeks on the island. Students from Cornell, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Boston University, and Beloit College dispersed to locations around the island—to Kawaihae to work at the intersection of indigenous and Western scientific traditions with the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Na Kalai Wa‘a program, to Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park to explore the dynamic terrestrial ecosystems there, and to Kahalu‘u to participate in hands-on education and conservation of the bay’s fragile coral reef resources. Three of the students conducted independent research in conjunction with professional scientists, studying humpback whale songs, spinner dolphin behaviors, and assessing regeneration of native species in Ka‘ūpūlehu Dry Forest. Three students participated in local education efforts, one as an assistant to a middle school science teacher at Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy, and two more as volunteers at the Dolphin Quest Program at the Waikoloa Beach Resort. Read more about the students’ internship experiences in "Gathering the Knowledge of the Land" on the Back Page.

This year’s EES program again met their challenge of living carbon-neutral, offsetting more than twice the carbon they emitted through program activities (including air travel, ground travel, domestic gas and electricity use, food, and waste) by planting trees. “When mature, these trees will sequester fossil-fuel-derived carbon for 100s to 1000s of years, and they will help to restore degraded dryland forest ecosystems in West Hawai‘i,” explains Alexandra Moore, EES Program Director.

Learn more about the EES Program at

A World of Difference

Photo: 2010-2011 Frameworks teacher cohort and project administrators.

I can honestly say that teaching science has never been more fun and exciting than this year! And I can speak for my students when I say that it is definitely exciting for them. We've incorporated many more hands-on experiments, which have led to higher level thinking skills and exciting discoveries. Students can't wait for science period and I can't wait to teach it! MSP has made a world of difference in my teaching of science. —Hilo Complex elementary school teacher

On May 31, forty-one teachers from the six elementary schools in the Hilo School Complex gathered in celebration of Year Two of a three-year project to transform the way science is taught at their schools. The Frameworks for Success in Science project, a National Science Foundation Math Science Partnership (MSP) project funded locally through a grant from the State Department of Education, has much to celebrate. The project is a three-prong approach to enhance collaboration and articulation of curriculum amongst schools in the Hilo Complex—and to build professional developmentcommunities of teachers led by high-powered science specialists utilizing state-of-the-art tools to deliver outstanding hands-on science instruction to students. Children in grades K–6 explore topics ranging from what makes rain, to how cells in the human body work together, to what forces start things moving in the world around us. The Kohala Center is a partner in the Frameworks project, providing technical assistance and advisory oversight.

Photo: Mr. Leroy Bovee at Chiefess Kapiolani Elementary School helps his first grade students in this life science lesson about seeds and plants.

Evaluation data indicates that the Frameworks project is a resounding success. Already there are significant differences between teacher classroom behaviors in teaching science and significant improvements in student pre/post scores. Students from schools participating in Frameworks outperformed their peers throughout the State and District in all four science domains (life, earth, space, physical science and inquiry) on the HSA science test.

Learn more about the Frameworks project on the Back Page. View two-minute year-end videos from each grade level at

A Sense of Kinship

Photo: Waikoloa Middle School students worked in the Kohala rainforest, where they studied snail abundance, native bird abundance, and moisture levels of soil at different elevations on Kohala Mountain.

If you take one native plant from the forest, the forest will fall apart. The plants are family. —Student participant in the HI-MOES Program

On May 11, sixty-two students from nine Hawai‘i Island intermediate and high schools gathered at W.M. Keck Observatory in Waimea to share the results of their scientific research with their peers. These students represented more than 500 students who participated in Year Two of The Kohala Center’s NOAA-funded HI-MOES (Hawai‘i Island Meaningful Outdoor Experiences for Students) Program. Throughout the 2010–2011 school year, HI-MOES outdoor educators Samantha Birch and Melora Purell provided support for 14 teachers in 11 schools to design and implement meaningful outdoor research experiences with their students. TKC support included:

This year’s students looked at how environmental variables affect everything from the species of birds that inhabit the wet forests of Kohala to water quality parameters and fish prevalence in Hilo Bay. Participating teachers tell us that having the opportunity to do “real” science motivates their students to look deeper at the world around them and analyze their findings.

Photo: Ke Ana La‘ahana student exploring Kahalu‘u Bay.

Being at the ocean, you can see for yourself what you can’t see on the Internet. You can’t see the whole picture on the Internet. You have to be physically and mentally alert to collect data in the ocean. I liked seeing how science actually works in the outside world. —Student participant in the HI-MOES Program

Read more about the HI-MOES student research projects on the Back Page. Visit the HI-MOES Web site at

Summer Scholars

Photo: Lysha Matsunobu, UC San Diego Academic Connections scholarship recipient, relaxing at Laupāhoehoe Point.

“Evolution of a Planet: Understanding the Climatic and Biologic Changes that Shape the Earth,” is the course that I will be taking at UC San Diego’s Academic Connections this summer. I am excited and grateful for this opportunity and hope that by studying Earth’s history, I will be able to better understand and help our planet’s future. —Lysha Matsunobu, sophomore at Parker High School and UC San Diego Academic Connections scholarship recipient

The Kohala Center congratulates our 2011 summer scholars—Lysha Matsunobu, Miranda Lugo, and Kialoa Mossman. Lysha will attend a three-week residential program at The University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where she will have the opportunity to work side-by-side with world-renowned UCSD researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The course will use the fossil record to help students understand the nature of interactions between the evolution of earth, life, and climate.

Photo: Miranda Lugo, 2011 CATALYST Academy scholarship recipient.

Miranda Lugo, a sophomore at Konawaena High School, and Kialoa Mossman, a junior at Waiakea High School, will travel to the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York, to participate in the CATALYST Academy. This year’s Academy will focus on Digital Design and 3D-Printing, under the direction of Professor Hod Lipson of the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Miranda and Kialoa will have the opportunity to design their own unique personal product, then use a 3D printer to fabricate their product. 3D printers deposit droplets of plastic, layer by layer, until they transform an electronic blueprint into an actual 3D physical product. At the end of their week at Cornell, Miranda and Kialoa will have the opportunity to market their new creations online.

Photo: Kialoa Mossman, 2011 CATALYST Academy scholarship recipient.

Along with partial support from university partners, donations from The Kohala Center’s Circle of Friends help to provide Hawai‘i Island youth with opportunities to join in these outstanding summer programs at Cornell University and USCD. Visit to support our scholarship program by making a donation.

Planting Hope

Photo: Students planting and weeding the kale field at Hoa ‘Aina O Makaha.

This month school garden and classroom teachers will converge at the oldest school garden in the state, Hoa ‘Aina O Makaha (, for the 4th annual Summer School Garden Conference, from July 7–9, 2011. The theme of this year’s conference is Planting Hope: Growing the Next Generation.

Hoa ‘Aina is a five-acre farm that adjoins the Mākaha Elementary School on O‘ahu. For the past 25 years, Gigi Cocquio and his family and staff, have been teaching students and community members in Mākaha how to care for the land, how to care for animals, and how native Hawaiians used plants in their everyday life. Hoa ‘Aina is more than a school garden—it is a school in a garden. The program offers unique opportunities to the children and the entire community of Mākaha, such as the Malama Makaha Credit Work Program, a container garden program, a peace center, and a demonstration farm.

Photo: Gigi Cocquio discussing plants with his students.

This past year Makaha Elementary’s third grade classes spent one full day each week at Hoa ‘Aina. As the featured speakers at this summer’s conference, the school’s third grade teachers, Gigi Cocquio, and Lynn Okamura, the principal of Mākaha Elementary School, will discuss the challenges and opportunities that have arisen during their journey to reconnect students with the ‘āina (land), with themselves, and with nature.

Other conference presenters include Kumu Keala Ching (, who will connect the Hawaiian ‘Ōlelo No‘eau with the six General Learner Outcomes (GLOs) that are an important part of the Hawai‘i Department of Education curriculum, and Sarah Sullivan, who serves as the program coordinator for the Abernethy School's award winning School Kitchen Garden in Portland, Oregon. Abernethy is a model for the school garden movement because of its benchmark-standard targeted garden curriculum and because of its test-kitchen, which prepares minimally-processed school meals using locally sourced ingredients. This year’s conference will also feature 24 different breakout sessions specially designed for garden educators: see for a complete list of afternoon breakout sessions.

Photo: An anuenue (rainbow) over Hoa ‘Aina.

“We wish to plant hope in each of the participant’s minds, hearts, and bodies, so that they can bring this hope home with them as they begin the new school year,” says Nancy Redfeather, The Kohala Center’s Hawai‘i Island School Garden Network (HISGN) Coordinator.

Learn more at

Wellness with Plants

Photo: ‘Uhaloa (Waltheria americana), commonly known as Sleepy Morning. When mixed with other plants, ‘uhaloa is used to treat sore throats, bronchial infections, and asthma. The plant’s bitter roots were traditionally used much like aspirin is today. Photo by Yvonne Yarber Carter. Learn more at

More than 25% of Hawai‘i’s endangered plant species are found in dryland forests, and more than 40 native plant species grow in dryland forests, including the endangered kauila, uhiuhi, koki‘o, ‘aiea and halapepe trees.

Celebrate Lā‘au Kahiko, Lā‘au Kahiki, Lā‘au Lapa‘au—Plants of Old, Plants of Foreign Lands, and Wellness with Plants at The Kohala Center’s Ka‘ūpūlehu dryland forest learning event. Join Keoki Carter and Yvonne Yarber Carter of the Cultural Ecology team with the Ho‘ola ka Makana‘a program on Sunday, July 24, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Several members of the same lā‘au lapa‘au ‘ohana (family) will share their perspectives on creating relationships with the land and with plants that influence mutual well-being and health. “This is not a ‘recipe workshop’ on lā‘au use, but rather sharing of a foundation that seeks to promote relationships of well-being between people and the land,” explain the Carters.

Participants will learn about select medicinal plants, both native and non-native, and will spend some contemplative time in the midst of lā‘au kahiko to reflect on what has been shared. Participants must be fit, able to handle hot weather, and able to walk on steep, uneven terrain and a‘a (stony rough lava). Sturdy closed shoes and long pants are required. Please provide your own sun protection. Lunch is included.

For a listing of other learning events in the 2011 series: Birds, Whales, and Wellness Plants, visit

The cost is $50 per excursion for current Friends of The Kohala Center. To become a Friend, visit; e-mail; or call 808-887-6411.

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